Targeting the Majority: Redesigning Racial Profiling

Yoram Margalioth, Tomer Blumkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Imagine that you are a police officer stopping cars for a drug search and that you have reliable statistical information that African Americans are more likely to engage in drug trafficking. Most people believe that in such a case it would be efficient to search more African Americans compared to the rest of the population. Some object to targeting African Americans because of equity considerations, but they are likely to think that it is efficient, albeit not socially desirable. As we explain, this is not necessarily true. Minimizing ordinary crime such as drug trafficking is achieved, by and large, through deterrence. Deterrence should concentrate on those individuals who are equally likely to commit a crime or to abide by the law ("marginal offenders"). Being a member of the marginal offenders group is not the same as being a member of a group that, on average, commits more crimes.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)317-345
Number of pages29
JournalYale Law & Policy Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Political science -- Government -- Government services
  • Social sciences -- Population studies -- Human populations
  • Law -- Criminal law -- Criminal offenses
  • Behavioral sciences -- Criminology -- Criminal profiling
  • Economics -- Microeconomics -- Economic costs and benefits
  • Law -- Criminal law -- Criminal justice
  • Behavioral sciences -- Anthropology -- Ethnology


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